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Monday, September 20, 2010

Exclusive! Extras from my LA Times interview with ass-whoopin' "Chase" star Kelli Giddish

If Angelina Jolie gives a new kick-ass name to Salt, then Chase star Kelli Giddish adds a sexy roundhouse kick to the phrase "salt of the earth." As U.S. Marshal Annie Frost, Giddish tackles the big, bad guys and the big, bad reality that her father--a long-on-the-run fugitive--is one of them. Here are outtakes from my interview with Kelli for my recent story about TV's Tough Chicks in the the Los Angeles Times' fall preview section.

You kick some serious butt in the Chase premiere. Are you exhausted?
Am I exhausted? Lord, no! You have to have a lot of energy to do this role. Tomorrow we do a huge shootout. I don’t know how we make these mini-movies every week. Last week I was running through a field and jumping on a biplane. I did that about twelve times.

It’s great, man. The stuntwoman’s there. She kind of perfects the stunt. I show up and get to do it. I get to do it every time. Eric Norris, Chuck Norris’ son, is the stunt coordinator. I could not be in better hands. We got out and have a helluva time doing all these stunts. It’s what I love about this show. It’s not like other action shows that put the CGI and special effects in later. We’re actually doing it.

What fuels Annie’s aggression and her bloodhound tenacity?
It’s wonderful to play a character, a woman, so committed to her job. As the season unfolds we’re gonna see where she gets that fire and that ability to focus so intensely on getting the bad guy. She comes from the same criminal mindset that she chases after every day.

Her father is a criminal who’s still at large. The audience is going to glean more information as the season goes along about what exactly he did. It’s so interesting the way Jennifer Johnson created it. With Annie, it’s either one side of the law or the other. And Annie Frost ended up on the right side of the law. And she’s damn good at it.  

She’s serious about what crime does to a family, what it does to being a daughter, a wife. She went through all of that growing up. Once you see that first hand, it’s impossible not to follow through and be committed to getting the bad guy.

And you’re playing a Texas girl. And everyone knows you don’t mess with Texas.
That’s right. (Laughs.) And you don’t mess with Annie Frost either.

Yes. I was training down in Houston. When you see it with your own eyes, it’s intense what these guys (U.S. marshals) do, man. They don’t even raise an eyebrow.

Annie Frost has got the Texas in her. It’s a rich place to draw from. Filming here is so saturated—the culture and the colors and the patriotism. What a better place than Texas? So often things are black and white here. It’s right or wrong.

(The Texas female marshal) came up through the ranks, just like any other police officer. I call her the Queen Bee. I got to see what kind of road she took to get where she is. It’s an interesting road, being female and in charge of something you’d see as male-dominated.

(Executive producer) Jennifer Johnson, the cast and I did a lot of ride-alongs with them, too. You serve the warrants with them, too. I was in a car with this guy for 15 hours, for five days. You hear all these war stories, and you see them with your own eyes.

This show has a HUGE production value—it’s a Bruckheimer show—at our fingertips. To show these little snippets that Jennifer Johnson and I heard on these ride-alongs and throw them up on the TV screen with these great production values and a seasoned, interesting cast … We have great directors coming through and the writing has been phenomenal.

It’s a different show. It’s not trying to find out whodunit. We know who did it.

Why will a kick-ass woman who can kick ass resonate with audiences in 2010?
When was the last time you got to see a woman go to work with cowboy boots and jeans and actually get the work done? Ya know? We haven’t seen that. I read the script and said, “Yeah. This is my kind of lady.”

It’s sexy to see a woman instinctually know how to get the job done. That’s the kind of woman I’ve always been friends with. To see a strong woman and see how her mind works—not only the physical stuff—but how she filters out the bullshit noise so she can focus on what’s important.. To see a girl take down a 180-lb. man, that’s always gonna be fun, man.

I’m from Georgia, baby, and I grew up around some real strong women. My co-star Rose Rollins can take on anybody, man. You’ve got two kick-ass women on that show. If I go out with Rose, I know I’m cool. Nobody’s messin’ with us.

The underlying thing with Annie Frost—and why I love her—is she has a huge heart. She can connect with people. And at the end of the day she’s protecting people like me and you. (I want) to show what an honorable job that is, that you come from a place of truly wanting to help other people.

How important is it to you to show Annie’s vulnerabilities—namely, her daddy issues.
I think a lot of time it’s interesting to see people holding that (vulnerability) back and fighting through it. I did a scene with an older gentleman who reminds Annie of her dad. When I was done with the scene, I swear to God I went to the bathroom and bawled my eyes out for ten seconds.

It doesn’t always come out. And I don’t think it always should. That’s a trait of Annie’s and why people are gonna root for her. As we get to know her more and more we’re gonna get to see a little bit more of the vulnerability.

You’ve definitely done your share of close-up emoting, especially on All My Children. How cool is it to get to run, jump and kick butt as an actress?
I get up in the morning and I’m like, “What am I gonna do today? You’re sprinting 50 yards and then jumping on the wing of a biplane as it’s moving, and then shooting out its propeller. Or I get to crash a car or two with my buddy Cole Hauser. Okay! It’s gonna be a great damn day.”

It’s exhilarating to be able to use your body. So often we’re talking heads on TV. I get to run in fields and jump in rivers and hang off the sides of cliffs and do shootouts and kick doors down! It’s a mental and physical chase. It’s full throttle.

I’m looking at my fingernails now. There’s brown stuff in them and they’re all jagged. I’ve got two huge bruises on my shin. My elbow is scraped up all to hell. Thank God my daddy’s not around me. He’d think someone was beating up on me.

I grew up playing sports. I was a catcher in softball. I remember throwin’ girls over my shoulder if they’d try to steal home. I’ve always loved being outside. And thank God, because it’s 105 degrees here. This role is so up my alley.

So your job is really the ultimate workout.
The female marshal I trained with was 41. Not a wrinkle on her face. I said, “You don’t look a day over 32.” She said, “Kelli, I have no stress. Look at what I get to do every day. I’m out running every day and getting the bad guy into custody. I have no stress. It’s all good, babe.”

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